Jan 15, 2009
The Toronto media have already descended on the Triangle, and Canadian reporters are lining up to interview Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice.
That’s because Thursday, Maurice will face the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first time since the organization fired him after the 2007-08 season. The media attention Maurice faces leading up the game reminds him of the intense scrutiny he faced every day while coaching the Leafs.
“It’s a different animal,” Maurice said Wednesday. “That captain of our team was on TV more than the prime minister of Canada. That’s how much coverage that team gets.”
When asked if he missed that attention, Maurice laughed and said, “Not for a minute.”
Maurice did miss the playoffs both years he coached in Toronto. So facing a three-year postseason drought, the organization decided to rebuild last year. The Leafs fired Maurice and general manager John Ferguson Jr.
“Clearly, we had some issues,” Maurice said. Referring to himself, he added, “Some coach came out and said he thought they would make the playoffs and challenge [for the Stanley Cup].”
As Maurice takes the reigns in Raleigh for a second time, he believes the pressure to win with the Hurricanes is greater than it currently is in Toronto.
“Now, [the Maple Leafs] are in a rebuilding phase,” Maurice said. "The wins and losses aren’t monitored the same way as they are right here [in Carolina], so I like working here.”
The Hurricanes own a 21-18-5 record and sit in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings. The Maple Leafs are 16-21-6 and are a distant fourth in the Northeast Division.
Still, Maurice admits the Thursday matchup means more than most games. He claims he wanted nothing to do with coaching for several months after he was fired in Toronto.
“The right thing to say is that it’s just two points,” Maurice said, “but when I was coaching Toronto, I wanted to beat Carolina real bad.”
“I’d like to beat Toronto real bad,” he said with a grin. “I’d love to win that game.”